Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
So welcome to all my Everything Oz visitors. I hope you enjoy our trip Over the Rainbow, stay for a visit, and come back soon.
Friday, February 13, 2009
During Week 4 we had a blast reading the story (the kids were really into it). But by far the most popular activity we did was the Great Green Food Taste Test. Every one of the kids had a fantastic time and EVERYONE used their higher level (relative to the student) communication systems to comment, request, and ask and answer questions. AWESOME! Tasting activities are a top favorite for my tube fed kids and all the kids demonstrated definite and consistent preferences.
In Week 5 of our Wizard of Oz project we vanquish a Witch, get some wishes granted, and learn that there truly is no place like home. Activities this week include:
- This rainbow art project: We are going to do the mobile project and add a writing component by choosing things about home that are important to us, gluing the PCS symbols to clouds and hanging the clouds from the bottom of the rainbow
- Making rainbow cookies
This week we are also hosting our big Wizard of Oz party. We've invited friends from two other classes to join us at the Skill Development Center. We are expecting about 25 kids plus staff and parents and have lots of fun activities planned:
- Follow the Yellow Brick Road game with lollipops for prizes
- Apple Toss with Scarecrow (toss plastic apples into a bucket from different distances) with rainbow springs as prizes
- Pin the Heart on the Tin Man with heart ornaments I found at Wal-Mart on clearance
- Lions and Tigers and Bears OH MY! game (played like Duck Duck Goose) with medals of courage as prizes (I found them at Wal-Mart)
- Emerald City sensory play (lots of green sensory toys like discovery bottles, colored rice, mardi gras beads, play doh, etc.) and cookie decorating; the kids will get a cookie (for those who can eat them) and a mardi gras necklace
- Melt the Witch game (place witch hat on an empty two liter pop bottle; toss a blue bean bag or small ball at the hat to knock it over) with bubbles (to represent water) as prizes
- We'll also have the Poppy Field quiet zone with bean bags and mats and Wizard of Oz music playing for kids who need a break from the rest of the action.
- During lunch we'll show the movie using the big screen in the Skill Development Center's gym
- We'll also have kids and adults dressed as the various characters in the story
We spent today's teacher work day finding and/or making decorations for the party:
- For the Yellow Brick Road we are using yellow disposable table cloths duck taped to the floor to make them safe to walk on
- The Emerald City area will be covered in green table cloths (it helps that this section is located in front of the stage which has green curtains)
- Party City had an awesome Dora the Explorer scene setter background sans characters which will make a perfect Oz countryside. It even has a passable Yellow Brick Road
- We made enlarged versions of some of Pete Wells's wonderful characters from his Oztastic unit to designate the different areas; Dorothy's house will even be 3-D as there is a large cooler in that section of the gym (add some "windows" and a "door" and a pair of stuffed striped stockings wearing ruby slippers and you have a house!)
- The goodie bags the kids will carry around to collect their prizes are made from brown gift bags with a picture of Toto glued to the front
- We'll have a crepe paper streamer "rainbow" hanging over the entrance door
Monday, February 9, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Our mornings always start the same with breakfast or peer time/leisure skills followed by Morning Meeting at 8:30 (you can find my Morning Meeting routine on Adapted Learning; log in to access the specific file).
After Morning Meeting we launch into two hours of Rotations. Each staff member not going on community outings has a "specialty" area: Academics/Cognitive Development; Computer Instruction; Assistive Technology; Physical Therapy/Gross Motor Skills; and Structured Sensory-Leisure/Assessment (this one is my area). Communication and Fine Motor Skills are embedded into the other areas. Rotations last 20-30 minutes depending on if we have 4 or 5 that day because of community outings. This is intensive 1:1 time for the kids and the short, highly structured sessions seem to be working well. And because of my "specialty" area, I can usually free up time to work with individual staff members within their areas AND I don't have to worry about training everyone on how to take state assessment data.
Rotations take us to lunch programs. I have 4 out of 6 students who prepare their own meals; the other 2 use g-tubes and have medication and other issues that result in the need for an extended rest break at about this time each day. Following lunch the kids get a 30 minute Independent Leisure break while the adults sneak in lunch.
At 12:30 the kids do chores (laundry, dishes, wipe tables, etc.) then we gather for a Group time activity (art, cooking, literature, game, etc.). Group generally takes about an hour, and then it's time to do bathroom trips and get ready to go home.
We also have each day categorized to make sure we cover all the academic areas, everything on their IEPs, and essential State Assessment skills. Mondays are dedicated to Math related skills, Tuesdays to Writing, Wednesdays to Reading, and Friday is still Sensory Fun Day.
Sounds pretty straight forward, huh? EXCEPT we also have an active Community Based Instruction program:
On Mondays ALL high school-age students (grade 9 and up) go to a nearby high school to participate with same age peers in Circle of Friends activities. Currently that involves 2 students and staff. In the afternoon 3 students go grocery shopping for their weekly food supplies (the fourth student who does meal prep follows a somewhat strict diet so his mother provides his supplies).
On Tuesdays two students/staff go swimming in the morning at an area YMCA on a rotating schedule. In the afternoon all high school students age 16 or older (currently 1 student) go to the Skill Development Center to work on a variety of Home Living and Vocational skills. We also have Speech in the afternoon.
On Wednesdays the 16 and up group goes to the Skill Development Center in the morning, prepares and eats lunch there, then goes to an area YMCA to participate in an exercise program.
On Thursdays the whole class goes out into the community, sometimes together and sometimes in groups of 3 students/staff. We go bowling, to a special movie showing dedicated to patrons with unique special needs, to the video arcade, to the mall, to a nail salon, etc.
On Fridays we stay at school BUT this is our "peer day." It is also "therapy day" as we have both Speech and Physical Therapy. Peers come one class period in the morning for "hang out" time (these kids are from the alternative learning class and work to earn the opportunity to join us) and right after lunch for slightly more structured activities (currently they are helping with Wizard of Oz activities).
This schedule is hectic and makes a lot of work for me in planning, organizing, and preparing materials, but it's been good for the class. The kids don't get stagnant and bored with their programming, the adults are on their toes all the time, and everyone gets a break from the over crowded conditions of our classroom at some point in the week. That goes a long long way to reducing the inevitable tensions that arise when people spend so much time in such close proximity (believe me when I say that is a whole other post!). I'll admit it's been hard for me to release so much control. Up until now I've always been everywhere the kids are. We pretty much did everything as a group and I knew what was going on all the time. Not that I don't trust my paras, because I absolutely do, but it's just not the same as me being there. However, the "release of power" has been good for me too. Other than when I have to go to start new programs, solve problems, or evaluate success, life is actually a bit less crazy for me. Or maybe I'm just used to it by now. Who knows?
Friday, February 6, 2009
Next week we find out if everyone survives the poison poppies, meet the Great and Powerful Oz, and venture off on a quest after the witch's broom. As part of our activities we will
- Do a green foods taste test and graph our likes and dislikes
- Fingerpaint with different shades of green (if time; it's a four day week for us)
- Do the heart collage we ran out of time for this week
- Do a lesson on the concepts of "real" and "pretend"
Our big Wizard of Oz party is in two weeks. Hopefully we'll be finished with the story by then. There's only one part to go after this next week so I think we'll make it.